H.E.A.T - Tearing Down the Walls

H.E.A.T Tearing Down the Walls cover
Tearing Down the Walls
Erstwhile Swedes H.E.A.T, have managed to become an almost household name, if not that at least, the next “big” thing, in waiting, by tenacious work, on album that were quite impeccable and relentless touring that saw them traverse Scandinavia, multiple times, the UK, at least a few and brought them to a lot of places around the globe, in their few years of existence.
They have already survived, some key members departures, with some of their main “writers” like the ex-singer Kenny Lekremo leaving the band after the second album, only to be substituted by the Swedish Idol Winner, Erik Gronwall, who given the time, to get acclimatized and become a proper band member, that the band gracefully afforded him, turned out to be quite great replacement, already proving his worth in the bands previous album and tour that followed it, but also guitarist, Dave Dalone, who also wrote a lot of material announcing his departure prior to the release of this album and the band deciding to soldier on without seeking a replacement and just relying on Eric River’s talents and interplay with the keyboards instead of twin guitars plus keyboards. Well it still works... I suppose, but there was the high stakes of having another departure of a key member.
The EPs “A Shot at Redemption” left people with mixed feelings as it had a new track – acoustic stuff, a cover – it wasn’t the most representative teaser the band could give, as a hint of what’s to come in the full release...
Enter “Tearing Down the Walls”…
H.E.A.T. almost manages to do well. I mean, with “Address the Nation” they had set the bar high and they needed to at least come up with a decent follow up, in order to not, make fools of themselves. “Tearing Down The Walls” thankfully is decent and then some, I wouldn’t say it amazing, but it’s quite spectacular… another little gem in the crown, it may have a couple of flaws, but overall the exciting performances and the “easy on the ear” songs, work wonders...
“Point of No Return” has a cliché title, a cliché keyboard intro, some very cliché 80s melodies and is very predictable, in its Europe power/hard rock style, but having said all that, Europe, haven’t sounded this good, since the reunion... so, it’s a winner. I wish, Europe sounded like this actually, nowadays.
“A Shot at Redemption” was already known from the EP and it’s a little different, more swanky, with a sort of rock-n-roll riff and dynamics that match that style and a sing a long refrain, where the whole band joins in and it sort of has a bit of the swagger of bands like the Quireboys etc... without losing the wimpier poppier edge… it’s a very nice mix between the two and a very celebratory song… at least in tone, because is a little bittersweet at best…
“Inferno” is a simple but infectious, sort of metallized hard rocker with party-minded lyrics about getting loaded and not knowing what the f%$k you're doing. Shit, I suppose a situation that a lot of people have been in, or older people might not mind reminiscing about (unless they’re complete fu#$#cases and still get ju$#ked/fu#$ed up)!
“The Wreckoning”/“Tearing Down the Walls”“The Wreckoning” is a smart wordplay and an atmospheric intro to the title track, “Tearing Down the Walls”, which is a mid-tempo ballad with a lot of character, great singing, nice orchestration, with the keyboards imitating rich strings, it’s a very impressive piece!
Now... “Mannequin Show” is a brilliant track, I love it! it’s catchy as hell, but it’s also, a bit of a “cover”... it takes a tiny bit of Abba’s “Voules Vous” along with the orchestrational touch and mixes it with a whole lotta lot of "A Woman In Love" by Barbara Streisant during the first part of the chorus and “Hit me Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears during the latter and I think it slightly changes the time signature, but it’s very much a pastiche of those two songs, with chopped Abba all over it... lovely tune, just not very original...
“We Will Never Die” also doesn’t win any points for originality as it apes, but at least doesn’t copy too many AOR clichés to mention. At least the result is a nice harder edged AOR number with vocal acrobatics that range from Michael Jackson to Joseph Williams, in the same number.
“Emergency” is another very keyboard dominated number, with an extended guitar solo, not bad, but maybe showing a bit of a struggle, in finding “more” parts to complete it “properly”... so they had to somewhat extend a couple of sections... classic “80s” inspired, hard rocker that, doesn’t disappoint, but feels a little underwhelming in a couple of places, or at least – incomplete.
“All the Nights” is Erik Gronwall’s showpiece a big piano ballad, with H.E.A.T’s other pretty boy, really hitting them notes and making them really hurt! Hehe! (Weep ladies weep and guys get out your lighters – sorry, your apps! I forgot, we’re not in Kansas, anymore and it’s not 1989 anymore!)
“Eye for an Eye” (eye, eye, eye) is a poppy and pompy, wimpy, happy number, that after all the mid and slower songs, made a very welcome change. Fine (singalong) chorus, below 4 minutes, a sure mini-hit...
“Enemy in Me” is a lot more modern, the sort of modern rocker, that H.E.A.T, Gotthard, Wig Wam, Eclipse, pretty much everyone has “tried”, with heavily D-tuned guitars and really short consulted and muted riffs etc… if you can pull it off and you can come up with a great vocal line to go along, it can be pretty enjoyable. Here, the result is not horrible, but it isn’t excellent either. It’s a middle of the road. For the sake of variety is nice, but I think it doesn’t really “stick” with the rest of the album “that” much... a track like this would feel more appropriate as a bonus, I guess.
Last but not least “Laughing at Tomorrow” is a nice celebratory, anthem with a glorious chorus and a bit of an unusual verse progression... at least the band has the capacity to surprise right until the end...
Well, while overall, “Tearing Down the Walls” is a weaker effort than its predecessor, which might have been a career defining album for H.E.A.T. at least, they don’t seem to fold up, with this one and after the departure, of a main song writing contributor. There’s still ability and will in the band and the new “more” to the point “idealism” of the band, is not too bad, but at times maybe it tends to go a bit too far... On the last album they seemed to have gotten the perfect balance... I think they can reclaim it, given time. A really decent album on the heels of an excellent one, that would have always been a tough act to follow, with a lot of nice tunes to indulge in and to hope to witness live as these Swedes are really best when you see them on stage!